Tuesday 18 August 2015

255: Edge highlighting

Edge highlighting is a basic technique, but it's one I think I have got better at in the last year or so.

The arrows point out a few regions where I have put bright white straight onto pure black. This is something I would have avoided before. The lines need to be very thin. I think I got away with it here.
  • Use a fine brush. I use Winsor and Newton 000 for the finest edge highlights.
  • Use retarder. This slows the paints drying time. Without it I can't move fast enough to get the paint onto the model before it dries on the brush. I use Vallejo retarder. The bottle says no more than 5% retarder. I have got up to 14% and it still cures, but this may depend on the paint you are using.
  • Prep the brush. Wet it first. wipe enough water off that there is no longer a drop of water on the end of the brush separating the bristles. Get a tiny amount of paint on the brush and wipe off the excess.
Dont do this
The tip will fall one side of the edge, and then the other. You will not get a straight line.

Do this
Use part of the brush just back from the tip.

Drag with the brush. Try not to stab with it. For some hard to reach areas this may be impossible. It's a good reason to assemble some parts after painting.
The ideal angle is 5-30 degrees.

I like the strength of the edge highlight to vary. I think trying to get it completely uniform is difficult and does not look good. I usually try to get the corners a bit brighter. So I first touch the newly loaded brush near a corner, and then wipe the paint toward the corner.
The next stroke starts further back, but again wipes towards the corner.

And so on.

You should end up with a subtle graduation of paint along the edge. I have heard that some prefer to try to hit the edge highlights with one stroke, but I got better results this way.

The only other detail about the technique is to suggest that doing several steps of edge highlighting with brighter colours is a good idea, particularly for large surfaces. Let me know what I missed, and how you do your edges in the comments.

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